“You people are expecting too much from the court,” Justice PB Majmudar told Team Anna on Friday while hearing its petition seeking permission to hold the three-day Jan Lokpal agitation at the Bandra-Kurla Complex grounds free of cost.
While the Bombay High Court agreed that Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption (IAC) has the right to stage a “satyagraha” to convey the nation’s sentiments to Parliament, the judges said every body, including the judiciary, is expected to function within its parameters without interference.
The court wanted to know what Team Anna wanted to do at the ground. Their advocate Mahendra Ghelani said they were voicing the nation’s feelings and wanted to make people aware about the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill being debated in Parliament.
“We don’t know. We are ignorant about Jan Lokpal,” Majmudar said.
The judges pointed out that people have elected representatives to plead their case. “Wouldn’t your agitation interfere in the functioning of Parliament? The Bill will be debated in Parliament where our elected representatives will plead our case,” the court said.
“As citizens, don’t we have a right to influence Parliament?” Ghelani asked. “Yes, you can. But when we permit by directing the government, it would be interference,” Majmudar said.
You can discuss this anywhere, even at a place like Chowpatty, the court said.
Ghelani contended that it is a self-guided movement without political agenda. “The MMRDA cannot equate us with an exhibition or rock concert, which has commercial interest,” he said.
“You are saying it is for the interest of the country, but there are people who don’t support this satyagraha,” the court said. “It cannot be said that it is such a national event that the MMRDA should consider giving the ground free of cost.”
MMRDA counsel Kiran Bagalia told the court that the petitioners are not a registered trust so they don’t fall under the policy that offers concession.
The MMRDA has agreed to expedite the process if Team Anna moves an application through a registered association to get the concession.
“If you want to be charitable, you do it,” the court told MMRDA.